If you’ve watched the news recently, you’ll have noticed the increased rhetoric surrounding health care in our country.
At the center of this discussion lies “Obamacare”, otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act, a measure originally signed into law by President Barack Obama in March 2010.
While it is difficult to cut through this rhetoric to see the real issue, there are several provisions of Obamacare that are relatively clear. In essence, it attempts to provide health-care to the majority of Americans and reforms current practices in the private insurance business. The mandate for citizens to buy health insurance (which will be in effect starting 2014) has earned criticism from the right with many questioning the constitutionality.
Other provisions of the bill include:
- Allowing children to remain on parents’s insurance plans until their 26th birthday.
- Requiring health insurers to cover children- including those with preexisting conditions (effective almost immediately).
- Prohibiting denying anyone with a preexisting condition care in 2014.
- Prohibiting insurers from dropping policyholders when they get sick.
- Requiring employers of 50 or more people to provide insurance for their employees.
- Banning illegal immigrants from buying health insurance.
- A 10% tax on indoor tanning.
Opposition to Obamacare is common to the four Republican presidential candidates, but the issue is particularly sensitive to Mitt Romney; he signed a similar bill while governor of Massachusetts which has been called an inspiration for Obamacare. Each Republican candidate has expressed desire to repeal the bill.
The largest argument against Obamacare is that the individual mandate is unconstitutional and that it is costing taxpayers far too much money. Some have suggested that it will allow for the government to extend further into people’s lives in the future. A number of liberals also oppose the bill, positing that it does not go far enough.
Supporters believe that it makes health care affordable for every American and keeps insurance companies from exploiting their customers.
As much of the bill has not yet taken effect (including the individual mandate), the full extent of its effects is not yet known. The constitutionality has yet to be decided.
In a historic decision this morning, the Supreme Court upheld almost all of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). Though considered unconstitutional under the commerce clause, the individual mandate was deemed constitutional as a tax.
The court upheld the controversial law in a 5-4 vote, with Chief Justice John Roberts as the deciding vote. A provision regarding the expansion of Medicaid was the only part of the law in danger; the Supreme Court declared that the threat of cutting Medicaid funding to states not participating in the expansion must be removed.
Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, has pledged to repeal the bill on his first day in office if elected. Congressional Republicans have also called for a vote on repealing the bill; this will likely take place in July. President Obama has urged Congress to allow the bill to be fully implemented, claiming they are playing politics and that the law is the best thing to do for the American people.
Sure to be an instrumental part of the election in November, the Court’s decision on Obamacare has energized both the Republican opposition and Democratic support. It has without a doubt defined Obama’s presidency and continues to affect each and every American; though its fate is unknown, the Affordable Care Act will forever be a significant part of Obama’s presidency and American history.
By: Sammy LaFrance